With Diego Costa dropped from the Chelsea squad and Dimitri Payet refusing to play for West Ham, do financially affluent Premier League players have any loyalty for their clubs anymore?
The situation with Costa seems to hinge on a mega financial offer from the big-spending Chinese Super League, although there seems to also have been a disagreement regarding the players’ fitness. After some difficult times in a Chelsea shirt when pundits questioned his temperament and levels of aggression, it seemed as though the Spaniard had turned a corner and was about to fire Chelsea towards the Premier League title. This season it could be argued that Costa was the best natural striker in Europe and will represent a significant loss for manager Antonio Conte as he fights to keep Chelsea on top of the league table.
For fans of Chelsea, it is a confusing time when a player you adore and idolise appears to be indifferent and mercenary in their desire for more money. Chelsea fans are forced to pay a huge amount for their season tickets and research by Voucherbox has actually found that both Chelsea and Arsenal fans can, in reality, save money watching their teams away from home, with travel and tickets costing them on average £749.90 to attend away games in a season vs £959 for home games. Having to pay so much to see your favourite players perform and then discover that they have no loyalty to the club and so little devotion to the fans must be gutting and creates a chasm between the viewpoints of fans and players.
The situation with Payet has escalated to the point where you feel the player simply cannot pull on a West Ham shirt ever again. There have been similar situations of Premier League players refusing to play for the club that pays them, with Carlos Tevez, William Gallas, Dimitar Berbatov and Pierre van Hooijdonk refusing to enter the pitch at points in their careers. It seems that West Ham and their manager Slaven Bilic have accepted that it is in the best interests of the club and the player that he is sold, and are now in the process of ensuring they get the best value they can and move quickly into the transfer market to replace the Frenchman. Payet has been one of the few bright sparks for a West Ham side that started the season expecting to challenge for a Champions League position but now are more likely to be engaged in a relegation battle. Having been knocked out of Europe in the early stages, struggling to adjust to the new London Stadium and having a disjointed squad of players, there are reasons for Payet to be dissatisfied with life in the capital. Yet for fans of West Ham, his behaviour is surely dismaying and you can imagine posters being ripped from the walls and Payet’s name torn from replica shirts.
“West Ham United Vs Manchester City” (CC BY 2.0) by joshjdss
The situations with Costa and Payet are different in that Costa is flying high at the top of the Premier League having just achieved the joint-best winning streak with 13 consecutive victories, whereas Payet is in a team labouring to earn points and closer to the foot of the table. Both players are at their peak performance levels. Costa at 28 years old and Payet aged 29 years old have just a few years left in their careers to gain a huge pay day that will secure their financial futures. Given these circumstances, it is understandable that the players will seek a move away from their current clubs. No one would question a lawyer or CEO moving from one law firm or business to another for an increased salary. The problem is that football fans are emotionally invested in the clubs that they support and the players that play for them, but for professional football players, it is just a job at the end of the day. Although it is hard for Chelsea and West Ham fans to take, all football fans should accept that there is little or no loyalty from today’s’ professional players and that as fans we should just enjoy the moments of great talent we get to witness before our favourite player forsakes us and moves on the greener pastures.